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Ural Maintenance Information for New and Prospective Ural Owners

Background:

Like many motorcyclists interested in purchasing a Ural, I traced the progress of this brand for several years while Ural America established its market. Both the motorcycling press and the Ural owner's community agree that overall reliability and product quality continually improved up to the current model year (2001). This was one of the important factors that helped make my decision to purchase a leftover 2000 Deco Classic. Two other factors were the extremely active and enthusiastic user community, and the reputation of Ural America for supporting that community.

I knew in advance, that by today's standards, this would be a maintenance-intensive motorcycle. However, I underestimated the level of meticulous and frequent maintenance required; and more importantly, just how critical that maintenance would be.

Use this data at your own risk. The author assumes no liability for any injury or damage incurred by the reader. This document is intended for informational use only.

Purpose:

This document has three sections:

I - General Guidelines for Maintaining a Ural:

6 key areas follow:

1. Never take maintenance items for granted

2. Understand common Ural failures

3. Too often is better than not often enough

4. Ural manuals are poor quality

5. Lubrication is your friend

6. Vinyl and rubber dressing is your friend

7. Don't expect direct help from Ural America
 
 

1. Never take maintenance items for granted

Most maintenance items on modern motorcycles are "checks" to verify that something is set correctly, is tight, is filled, etc. The majority of these checks result in no adjustments or further maintenance. As such, some of us eventually tend to skip certain checks, or give them the quick once-over.

You will be making a big mistake if you do the same with your Ural.

Prior to the 2500km tune-up, my motorcycle was driven strictly in accordance with Ural's break-in procedures. It was babied. Despite that, here are some maintenance items that needed adjustment on my Ural's first 2500km tune-up - which had never needed attention during routine maintenance on any other motorcycle I've owned - ever.

There were several other types of adjustments required during this maintenance which, frankly, surprised me. These same types of adjustments were necessary on my previous motorcycles only in the rarest circumstances, and only after significant mileage or age had occurred.

When the manual tells you to daily check the bolts that hold the final drive to the swing arm, and the electrical connection bolts on the alternator, do it - anyway.

The point here is that you must be thorough in your maintenance regimen. If a manual says to check it, check it. If the manual doesn't specify that you should check, adjust, or maintain something that you've routinely done in your previous experience - do it anyway.

This bike will leave you stranded if not maintained properly. Try to minimize the chances of this happening.

2. Understand common Ural failures Read a few months' worth of Ural user forums, noting reoccurring posts. When you see more than one person with the same problem - think of it as your problem. It probably will be - eventually. Good examples of this are the main cylinder bolts (as previously mentioned). After seeing several posts about "jugs" coming loose on their owner's - in transit, I checked mine (per the manual), even though no motorcycle I've ever owned needed the cylinders torqued during routine maintenance (because they were always already at the correct setting). Good thing I did. Another pluperfect example is the lock washer on my left driver's footpeg. A post I read recounted some poor slob that had his drivers footpeg come loose - in transit - and a host of damage that it caused. I checked mine even though it wasn't listed as a maintenance item. Good thing I did. The lock washer was broken into three pieces. Another good example is electrical system failures. Make sure all electrical connections are good, tight, and solid. Finally, after reading about numerous drive shaft failures, I pulled mine. The splines were dry as a bone. 3. Too often is better than not often enough It doesn't hurt, and can only help, to perform some maintenance items more frequently than called for. Many of my maintenance items were not called for until later maintenance intervals, but I performed them anyway. Reasons for this varied. One was reason being that I had read about common failures, and didn't want to take a chance. Another was that I did not own this demo-bike for the first 1700km, and I felt it was better to be safe than sorry. Finally, I wanted to gain experience in many areas, and this was as good a time as any. Some examples of this are the drive shaft (as mentioned above), replacing the gearbox oil (good thing too, because it was silver in color due to the large amount of metal particles), fully lubricating all cables and corresponding pivot points and nipples/stops.

Spark pulgs are a good example of this type of preventive maintenance. The Maintenance Schedule Summary calls for replacement every 10,000km. However, with the high number of forum posts relating to fouled plugs, it's a good idea to replace them more frequently; especially if you experience any uneven idle or other carburetor-related problems. Also, given that the spark plugs themselves have apparently changed (see the table of discrepancies, below), there's no way to know if the .040 gap indicated on page 157 of the Repair Manual is even valid.

Daily Maintenance is called for the electric connections on the alternator (page 46, Owner's Manual) and the final drive/swing-arm nuts (page 25, Owner's Manual). When was the last time you checked those daily on a motorcycle? During the week of 20 March, 2001, there was a post about yet another drive shaft failure, and a post about some poor stranded slob whose white alternator wire broke. Never take anything for granted!

4. Ural manuals are poor quality The Ural Owner's Manual and Repair Manual are of very poor quality. This is significant due to the maintenance required for these motorcycle; as well as their uniqueness. Most owner's perform their own maintenance due to the wide and isolated disbursal of dealers; and are therefore, very dependent upon these essential manuals. There are a number of discrepancies and vague areas that are independently documented in the second section of this manual, Identify discrepancies and vagueness in both the Ural Owner's Manual and the Repair Manual. 5. Lubrication is your friend A very effective way to prevent component failure is to lubricate thoroughly and frequently. I went so far as to lubricate the cams inside the wheel hubs (which was not called for until a later interval). There was grease evident on the outside, but contact points were pretty dry. Due to posts about broken cables - in transit, and because this was something I'd done with older motorcycles, I lubricated all my cables with a pressure lubricator. I followed this by lubricating all the corresponding pivot points, nipples and stops. My clutch cable had a squeak at the bottom end of the cable that was evident even after I lubricated it. While lubricating all corresponding clutch cable pivot points, I sprayed chain lube in and around the rod and hinge at the lower end of the clutch cable (at the rear of the engine case). After about 3 applications, the squeak stopped. I also lubricated the entire parking brake assembly, the sidecar trunk lid hinges and locking arm, and the L-shaped rear seat brackets, as well as others. Would my Ural have suffered some catastrophic failure - in transit - had I not lubricated the seat brackets? Never take anything for granted! 6. Vinyl and rubber dressing is your friend Why does Ural tire rubber and vinyl suck up Armor-All like animals at a Sahara watering hole? Because they need it! Already, my Ural mudflaps have cracks on both sides, at the bends. Can't do much for them; however the carb flanges (also a common failure) can be prolonged thru weekly dressing. Treat all your rubber and vinyl: ignition cables and caps, control cables, rubber stoppers, signal lenses, footpegs, etc. Never take anything for granted! If neglected, they will crack, break, split and tear. 7. Don't expect direct help from Ural America Ural America follows the typical model of providing technical support to their customers through their dealer network. This model is flawed for manufacturers of a relatively small number of motorcycles, typically sold to a niche corner of the motorcycling public. As noted above in number 4, owners perform much of their own maintenance, due to the wide disbursal of dealers. When accurate information cannot be obtained through any other source (including the dealers, who are also largely dependent on the same manuals the owners use), Ural America must be available and willing to provide that information directly to Ural owner's. They are not.

Hopefully, my experience is the exception, rather than the rule. However, I have not received any significant help from Ural's Technical Support staff. There are a large number of discrepancies within and between the manuals; and also, the information is often unclear or seemingly contradictory. It is critical that Ural Technical Support be responsive to their customers. They are not. Emails go unanswered. You cannot speak with them directly on the phone. It seems that Ural America's success has been despite their Technical Support program. Look at the number of questions, problems and posts regarding valve clearance adjustments. There are two poorly documented techniques in separate sections in the repair manual. There are at least two other methods commonly used within the community. When you're unable to accurately, precisely, and consistently set your valve clearances using any method - where do you turn? When you need to know the fluid capacity of your final drive and the manuals are discrepant, and the user forums give different answers, where do you turn? User forum information is good, but it's no replacement for specific information and support on technical matters that that only Ural America can and should provide.

II - Identification of discrepancies and vaguenessin the Ural Owner's Manual and the Repair Manual:

Discrepancies are detailed in the following table, where OM is the Owner's Manual, RM is the Repair Manual, and TB is Technical Bulletin:
 
Topic Section Manual Page/Ref Discrepancy
Gearbox Specifications Chart RM 2 RM and OM say capacity is .9L/1 Qt

OM List of Recommended Lubricants says 30 Oz oil, 12 Oz Hyper Lube for a total of 42 Oz

TB says 34 Oz

OM 5
TB 1999-04
List of Recommended Lubricants OM 51
Gearbox Maintenance Summary Schedule OM 48 Maintenance Schedule Summaries say to change every 5000km; Lubrication Chart footnote says "at 500km and then every 5,000km", but the chart itself says every 2500km.
RM 2
Lubrication Chart OM 50
Spark Plugs Specifications Chart RM 2 Manuals say NGK BP8HVX

Newer bikes come with NGK BP7HS

Entry in User's Forum from dealer (Wagner Cycles) indicates that "they came to the definite decision last Spring to run the NGK BP7HS". Is the .040" gap referred to on page 157 of the Repair Manual valid for NGK BP7HS, or only for the previous NGK BP8HVX?

RM 157
OM 5
Lubrication Diagram and corresponding chart OM 49/50 OM is OK. RM is different, and has the following problems:
  1. 18 items listed in chart, only 16 show on diagram
  2. item 1 refers to a mechanical timing unit (points, cam and felt) that does not exist on newer models - and does not specify what this item is (I called the dealer to find out)
  3. item 18 on the chart is not shown on the diagram
  4. all other items on the chart are off by 1 (subtract 1 from the chart reference number to get the actual diagram number)
RM 7/8
Brakes Control Cable Adjustment OM 34 Says gap between brake shoes and drum should be 1.6-2.0mm/0.06-0.08in. All other references say .3-.7mm/.012-.028in

 

The manuals are rife with vague and unclear procedures. Although this is somewhat subjective, the large number of these problem areas is sure to impact more owners than if they were updated to be more clear and concise. I have only documented those areas that were particularly troublesome to me during my initial 2500km maintenance. It is assumed that these areas will also cause problems for other new owner's as well. There is virtually no single place you can go to read the procedures about a given maintenance item. You have to traverse through several sections and sometimes even have to reference multiple documents (e.g., OM, RM, TB). Often, maintenance items are only covered in detail in a repair section. Sometimes there is a different technique used between the two (valve clearance adjustment is a good example of this). The problem is so endemic that I have compiled a cross-reference matrix (that immediately follows this section) to help make sense of it all.

I recommend retaining the current specifications and reference charts, and the maintenance summaries; but placing them all in one place near the front of each manual.

Also, I recommend an additional chart to show items that need to be checked on a regular basis. For example, there is an obscure reference on page 24 of the Owner's Manual that says to check the gearbox oil level every 500km. Similarly, page 25 and 46 indicate the need to daily check the drive shaft/swingarm nuts and the alternator and its connections (respectively).

Here's a sample:

Routine Inspections

Item Frequency Manual/Page Description
Final drive and swingarm nuts Daily OM 25; RM 138 Tighten the nuts which fasten the final drive to the swingarm. Failure to tighten the nuts in due time results in loose joints and destruction of the final drive cover.
Alternator and connections Daily OM 46; RM 147 Check the wire insulation and electrical connectors, especially the alternator battery terminal connections. Also check fastening of the alternator on the engine crankcase. With engine running, listen for correct backlash of the alternator drive gears.
Tires Every Ride or Weekly OM 29 Check inflation pressure and inspect tread for punctures, cuts, breaks, etc. at least weekly if in daily use or before each trip, if used occasionally.
... ... ... ...
A welcome format change would be to have a complete maintenance section in the Owner's Manual, and a comprehensive maintenance section in the Repair Manual. The following organization is suggested for each maintenance item (using throttle control cables as an example):

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Maintenance Item Throttle Control Cables
General Description Lubricate throttle control cables and all corresponding pivot points
Frequency 2500km
Lubricant For cables: Lightweight oil like 5w fork oil, or heavy spray lubricant like chain lube

For pivot points: Heavy spray lubricant like chain lube or common bearing grease

For throttle (grip): Lightweight spray lubricant

Total Lubricant N/A
Lubricant/HyperLube Ratio N/A
Procedures
  1. Remove the upper half of the throttle housing by removing 2 screws from the lower half, leaving the shorter center screw in place (holding the lower half affixed to the handle bar).
  2. Remove the upper ends of the cables from the housing by pushing up on the lower end of the throttle cable (down at the carburetor) to provide just enough slack to remove the top nipple from the upper metal stop/bracket. (See illustration below).
  3. Leave the lower ends of the throttle cables affixed to the carburetor brackets and wedge a small rag underneath to catch the drips
  4. Attach the lubrication mechanism (see Note (a) below) and lubricate fully until lubricant is visible at the lower end. This can be facilitated by repeatedly moving the cable core up and down.
  5. Lubricate the throttle (grip) with a light weight spray lubricant
  6. Lubricate all pivot points on the lower end, at the carburetor bracketry, with a heavy spray lubricant like chain lube, or common bearing grease.
  7. Reassemble and check your work for smooth even motion without binding or drag.
  8. Verify carburetor synchronization using the procedures in section XX, on page XX of the Repair Manual.
Notes a) Lubrication mechanisms can be a syringe-type pressure lubricator (recommended), a clamp-on lubricator designed for use with a spray lubricant, or a simple paper funnel taped to the cable - using gravity feed.

b) Also see section XX of the Repair Manual for complete carburetor synchronization procedures.


 

[ILLUSTRATION WOULD GO HERE]
 
 

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The sample above is based on my own personal experience. Note that any information that is incorrect or unclear is a perfect example of why we need this type of documentation from Ural America in the first place!

The actual adjustment procedures seem to indicate that if you adjust the brake-shoe/drum gap to.3-.7mm/.012-.028in you should also have a corresponding lever free play of 5-8mm front and 25-30mm rear. This says to me: set the gap and verify the lever free play. If the lever free play is not correct, adjust the spacers inside the hub(s) to achieve proper gap and lever play. The procedures need to be more understandable. This could be accomplished through a sentence or two indicating clearly what is to be done; then step-by-step instructions on how to do it.

The note, on the bottom of page 52 of the Repair Manual needs to be re-written to clarify what is being noted - and why. It is very technical, mostly indecipherable, and does not seem to apply to routine maintenance of the brakes.

(See complete procedure details in the Specific details of the critical 2500km break-in maintenance section, item 15)

This list, appearing on page 51 of the Owner's Manual is the only chart that provides details on the mixture, or ratio of Hyper Lube and oil. If, as I understand, this is the manufacturer's recommendation, this type of information should be included in all relevant fluid capacity charts and references. (Most references to lubricants do not currently specify Hyper Lube to oil/lubricant ratio). Footnote 3 for engine oil says "20W/50 Det. Oil and Hyper Lube Supplement"; while footnote 4 for final drive only says "Hyper Lube Supplement" - which could be misinterpreted to mean only use Hyper Lube in the final drive. Page 6 of the Repair Manual has a both a paragraph and a section with this title. One needs to be changed. For example, rename the Maintenance Schedule Summary paragraph to General Maintenance Information. Also, the Maintenance Schedule Summary paragraph distinguishes between "Normal Duty" and "Light Duty" and the type of maintenance that applies to each. No other references to these classifications could be found. They should be either emphasized throughout the manual (by directly addressing the different maintenance required for each), or these references should be removed. Tune-up Cross-reference Matrix

The following table provides an incomplete cross-reference for tune-up items as they appear in the manuals; where OM is the Owner's Manual and RM is the Repair Manual.
 
Item Manual and Page Reference
Specifications RM-1-3; OM-4-6
Maintenance Schedule Summary RM-6; OM-48
Lubrication Chart RM-6-7; OM-50
Lubrication Diagram RM-8; OM-49
List of Recommended Lubricants OM-51
Tune-up RM-9
Spark Plugs RM-6,9,157; OM-21,48
Valve Clearances RM-85, 91-92
Carburetor Throttle Synchronization RM-9,41
Clutch RM-41,134
Pick up Rotor Gap RM-6,9,155; OM-48
Brake Controls RM-9,41,52-53;OM-32-34
Engine Oil and Filter RM-2,6,7,9; OM-5,18,50,51
Gearbox Oil RM-2,6,7,9,102; OM-5,24,50,51
Final Drive RM-2,6,7,137-138; OM-5,25,50,51
Air Filter RM-6,7,164; OM-48,50
Fuel Filters RM-6; OM-48
Steering Head Bearings and Damper RM-6,49,67; OM-28,48
Wheel Bearings RM-6,55; OM-31,48
Control Cables RM-6,41; OM-34,48
Brakes RM-41,52-53; OM-32-33,34
Sidecar Lean-out, Toe-in, and Mount Points RM-67-68; OM-27,31
Electric Connections RM-147; OM-46
Check All Fasteners OM-85 (Service Coupons)
Spoke Tension OM-31,85 (Service Coupons)
Torque Cylinders and Cylinder Heads RM-3,91; OM-7

 
 
 

III - Specific details of the critical 2500km break-in maintenance

The following items were performed during the initial 2500km maintenance of my 2000 Deco. Not all were required for this maintenance. However, had I not performed some of these extra steps, there would likely have been dire consequences. One example is setting the proper torque on my (main) cylinder nuts. All four of the lower nuts were loose. Oil was weeping onto the engine case and frame. Another example is the gearbox oil, which was silver in color due to the large amount of metal particles. The order indicated below is not precisely the order in which I performed the maintenance - but should have.

1. Lubricate cables: Pressure-lube: clutch, brake, throttle Gravity-lube: speedometer

Grease or lubricate all cable pivot points, brackets, nipples, etc.

Grease or lubricate external front and sidecar brake linkage

I removed the upper/top end of each cable in order to lubricate them. Even though the lower ends of the cables were usually visible (the speedo cable was not), I removed them anyway in order to grease the pivot points and/or nipples.

Notes on Throttle cables:

Speedo cable: I couldn't pull the core (even with lower end removed), so I filled the little cup at the upper female threads end with chain lube about 7 times. I finally blew on the top to force it through, and out the bottom. 2. Clean and oil air filter

3. Lubricate footpeg hinges and shift lever shaft

4. Clean petcock and screen

5. Replace fuel filters

6. Check steering head bearings

7. Replace final drive oil

8. Sync carbs

9. Replace spark plugs

10. Change engine oil and filter

11. Change gearbox oil

12. Remove drive (propeller) shaft and grease splines and universal joint. Replace and torque final drive nuts to swing arm.

13. Adjust lean-out, toe-in; check all sidecar mount points.

For Toe-in, I used very straight 8' wooden baseboards. I propped up the board on the motorcycle side by using 2x4 blocks, equally high, just under the left exhaust, and against the tire edges (making sure the front wheel was pointed straight forward). I propped up the baseboard on the sidecar side equally high, fitting snugly against the tire edges, just under the hub. I then measured the distance from just under the rear wheel hub perpendicularly to the sidecar baseboard, just behind the tire. The manual calls for you to measure between the rear axles, but this is not a perpendicular measurement on my model as the sidecar wheel is about 1 foot forward (I suspect the instructions only apply to 2-wheel drive units). I then measured the front from under the front hub, perpendicularly to the baseboard. Did the subtraction and adjusted accordingly.

I eyeballed the lean-out, for lack of a better technique and adjusted out a little. Then I re-checked the toe-in to make sure nothing had changed.

14. Wheel bearings: With wheels on: pre-check wheel bearings by looking for side-to-side play, loose dust covers and axle nuts. With wheels off: Note that front axle is a left-handed thread pattern. Put the bike up with all 3 wheels off the ground. Check and adjust wheel bearings, lubricate external rear brake linkage and pedal and verify the cotter pin is secure in the brake rod stay (cross-pin) With the wheels off: 15. Adjust brakes: Put the bike up with all 3 wheels off the ground and removed: 16. Set ignition coil pick-up air gap

17. Torque cylinder nuts, and cylinder head (stud) nuts

18. Adjust valves:

Initially I tried to use the opening/closing-valve methods to set the valve clearances. However, I was never able to get consistent readings upon re-checking the settings. The readings were wildly inconsistent, anywhere from 0 clearance to .007. Part of the problem is that it is very difficult to determine the precise point at which you should set the clearances (or re-check the settings). I eventually used the TDC method to set the clearances. I was both surprised and disappointed that this method yielded only slightly better results. I've used this same method on over a dozen motorcycles over the last 22 years, and have always (without exception) been able to precisely set and verify valve clearances. I used both the TDC and the opening/closing-valve methods to verify the final settings. I could only get the valve clearances set to between >=.002 and <=.006. Anytime I tried to tighten up that outside .006 reading, it would result in at least one subsequent re-check of less than .002 - which was unacceptable. 19. Check and set spoke tension

20. Dress all rubber and vinyl

21. Check all fasteners for tightness (especially electrical and alternator connections, oil pan bolts, foot peg lock washers for breakage)

22. Adjust clutch lever free-play

23. Grease underside of seat (L-shaped brackets), all side car hinges (trunk lid and lock-bar, windshield). Note that to remove the seat, first unscrew the 17mm nut on the front underside (above the battery). Then it helps to press down firmly on the rear of the seat, raise the front and force the whole seat forward - towards the gas tank.